Demkina – The Girl with X-Ray Vision?
Natalya Nikolayevna Demkina in Saransk, western Russia, in 1987, this
talent claims to be able to make medical diagnoses by using ‘special vision’. It
is reported that the ‘X-ray Girl’, as she was nicknamed by the Russian tabloid
newspaper Pravda, is able to see organs and tissues inside human bodies
and discover medical ailments the person may be suffering from. Since the age of
ten, after an operation to have her appendix removed, Natalya (also known as
Natasha) has been making accurate medical readings in Russia, in her own words
“for a fraction of a second, I see a colorful picture
inside the person and then I start to analyze it.” Natalya’s abilities were
tested by doctors at a children’s hospital in her home town, where she was
reported to have correctly diagnosed the illnesses of several patients,
including one of the doctors.
After using her special vision to
examine the patients, sometimes down to molecular level, Natalya is said to have
drawn pictures of what she saw inside their bodies. She also apparently
corrected a misdiagnosis made by a doctor at the hospital on a female patient
who was told she had cancer. When Natalya examined the woman she only saw a
“small cyst”. Secondary examination revealed that Natasha had been right and the
woman did not have cancer.
After the news of Natalya’s incredible ability spread, the story was picked up
in 2003 by a local newspaper and TV station, and eventually by British tabloid
newspaper The Sun. This newspaper brought Natalya to England in January
2004, where she allegedly demonstrated her diagnostic powers successfully on
Sun reporter Briony Warden, who had received multiple injuries after being
hit by a car the previous October. While in England Natalya also examined
resident medic of the This Morning T.V. show Doctor Chris,
initially making correct identifications of previous medical operations he had
undergone, and then stating that the Doctor was suffering from various ailments
including "gall stones, kidney stones, and enlarged liver and an enlarged
pancreas". Somewhat shaken, Dr Chris underwent a scan at a local hospital to
discover how accurate Natalya’s diagnosis had been. He discovered that although
the scan did show a possible tumour in his intestines there were no serious
The best known and most controversial test performed on the
paranormal powers was that organized by the Discovery Channel in New York
in May 2004. The test, which was part of a Discovery Channel documentary
entitled The Girl with X-Ray Eyes, was carried out by researchers Ray
Hyman and Richard Wiseman from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and
Andrew Skolnick of the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health
(CSMMH). The 4-hour long investigation involved seven test persons, one of whom
was a ‘normal’ control subject. Natalya was given seven diagnoses written by
doctors and was required to match at least five of these to the corresponding
patient in order to prove that her abilities were unusual enough to warrant
further testing. In the event Demkina was able to match only four of the seven
correctly and thus the researchers concluded that she had failed the test and
left it at that.
But matters were not to be so straight
forward. Acrimonious disputes arose between Natalya’s
supporters, who believed she had been unfairly dealt with, and the
investigators. Demkina herself was extremely critical of the conditions under
which she had been tested and the way in which she was treated. The research
team responded by asking why Demkina had been unable to detect a metal plate
inside one subject's head, especially as its outline was visible beneath the
person's skull. However, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and the director of
University of Cambridge's Mind-Matter Unification project, Brian Josephson, has
also added his voice to the criticism of the tests carried out in New York.
Josephson is of the opinion that the tests were set up to discredit Demkina, and
that the odds of Demkina managing four matches from seven by chance alone would
be 1 in 50. He believes that the results from the Demkina experiment should have
been classed as "inconclusive".
Demkina’s New York experiment remains
controversial to this day and is still the subject of heated debate on internet
science and paranormal forums. But there are two points which are worth bearing
in mind, the first of which is that before the New York test Demkina had claimed
that she would be “100% correct” in her diagnoses, which was obviously not the
case. Secondly, she had also agreed to rules which stated that to pass the test
she would have to correctly match at least five of the diagnoses with the
corresponding patients. For her complaints to have any validity, they should
have been made before the tests not after.
After the inconclusive nature of the U.K and New York tests Natalya travelled to
Tokyo, Japan, where she underwent experiments with Professor Yoshio Machi, of
the Department of Electronics at Tokyo Denki University, who studies claims of
unusual human abilities. Demkina stipulated beforehand that she would only be
tested under certain conditions, which included that each patient brought with
them a medical certificate stating the condition of their health, and that her
diagnoses were to be limited to a single specific part of the body - the head,
the trunk, or extremities. The teenager also insisted that she was to be told in
advance which part of the body she was to examine. According to the website
Pravda.ru the tests were successful, with Natasha able to ‘see’ that one of the
patients had a prosthetic knee, and another had asymmetrically placed internal
organs. She was even able to diagnose the early stages of pregnancy in a female
However, practically all the information
for the Tokyo tests comes either from Demkina’s own website or from the
Pravda.ru website, the latter hardly a reliable source. Critics point out that,
as with Demkina’s tests in England, the Tokyo experiments were not performed
under strict conditions nor were they subject to independent review. Sceptics
have also noted that during the Tokyo tests Demkina was claiming to possess a
completely different kind of ability to X-Ray vision, in the words of Professor
Machi, she was able to “use her abilities . . . even on tiny passport photos . .
. look at them and apparently see what the problem was. Her ability is not x-ray
vision, but she definitely has some kind of talent that we can't explain yet."
Natalya Demkina still remains an extremely controversial subject, not least
because she has reportedly begun to charge around $13 for her medical readings,
describing the money as ‘donations’. Natalya performs between ten and twenty
diagnoses per night each weekday, which gives her a salary far above the average
monthly income of government workers in her home town of Saransk. In 2005,
Natalya opened the ‘Center of Special
Diagnostics of the Person’ (TSSD), a diagnostic and treatment center
for patients in Moscow, where she is in charge of the ‘Office of
Demkina’s role in this office is to
diagnose illnesses and supervise their treatment by other
healers with unusual
abilities. Not bad for someone who still hasn’t obtained a medical degree.
Sources & Further Reading
www.csicop.org/specialarticles/natasha.html - ‘Testing Natasha’.
www.csicop.org/specialarticles/demkina.html - ‘Natasha Demkina - The Girl with
http://demkina.ru - Official webpage of
Natasha Demkina (In Russian).
- ‘The Demkina File’.
- ‘Scientists' unethical use of media for propaganda purposes’.
© Copyright 2008 by Brian
Haughton. All Rights Reserved.